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How do I make picture marker symbols with smoother lines and edges?

March 12 2008 | 2 comments
Categories: ArcGIS Methods, Symbology

I have created a number of picture marker symbols that are circles divided into three sections. Each section of the circles contains one of three colors. I created the symbols as bmp files in Paint. When I use the symbols in a style the lines and edges are not smooth. How do I make picture marker symbols with smoother lines and edges?

Mapping Center Answer:

There are a couple things you could do:

1. Make the .BMP files much larger. Instead of 64 x 64 pixels, for instance, you could go with 360 x 360 pixels. The reason this will work is that unless you're displaying your markers at actual resolution, they are being re-sampled for display. As you're noticing ArcMap's resampling of raster picture markers is not particularly sophisticated. So, if you need to use these symbols at a variety of sizes, e.g., proportional symbol symbology, bitmap markers are definitely not the way to go.

2. Instead of using .BMP, use a vector drawing that is saved to .EMF format. You can use .EMF files for picture markers and they will scale nicely. If you're wondering what software to use, try ArcMap. Just use an empty map, go to layout view, move the empty data frame off the page and start drawing. Set the page size to be as close to the exact extant of your drawing as possible. Export your drawing to a .EMF file. Then create a new picture marker symbol with that drawing.

Finetuning .emf Files as Picture Markers posted by Mamie Anding on Apr 2 2008 11:39AM
I followed your instructions in #2 above and used the Size and Position tab to control size and placement of drawing elements in the graphic. the original graphic was 2 inches wide by 1 inch tall with a light border, a darker center and black text. I exported it at 1200 DPI and Best Output Image Quality.

When I created the Picture Marker Symbol, the image was centered in the setup dialog box, but was almost invisible on the screen. I set the intital size to 1 point.

Once I used the new symbol in an .mxd file, I had to increase the size to 500+ points and the larger the scale, the more the symbol offset up and to the left.

Can you suggest what setting I should have used, what I should have done differently, or any additional steps I need to take to correct this? I have about 40 custom symbols to create once this process is finetuned.
Page size posted by Charlie Frye on Apr 2 2008 3:27PM
Set your page size equal to the extent of your picture (File menu, Page Setup).

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